North Georgia, Gainesville State alumnus working as U.N. intern
3/2/2012 2:44:56 PM
(March 2, 2012) An interest in travel and a degree in
international affairs have taken Jess Grogan thousands of miles away from the
Forsyth County chicken farm where he was raised. His experiences have helped
him learn three foreign languages, taken him to 26 countries and landed him a
United Nations internship.
|Jess Grogan in Morocco, one of the many countries he has visited.
Grogan is an alumnus of both Gainesville State College and
North Georgia College & State University. After earning an associate's
degree in psychology at Gainesville State, Grogan transferred to North Georgia
to major in political science and international affairs.
"I traveled a lot with my parents when I was younger
and they were a big influence on my adventurous spirit," he said. "I chose
political science because I wanted to change something for the better, even
though I didn't really know what that would be. I chose international affairs because
I wanted to continue traveling and to see the world while using my
Grogan did more than just choose a degree in international
affairs; his and other students' interest in foreign languages and cultures helped
get the popular program started at North Georgia.
"Jess was one of the first students who expressed a
strong interest in international affairs. It was his enthusiasm, coupled with
that of other devoted students, that caused us to begin the development of the
international affairs major," said Dr. Dlynn Armstrong-Williams, director of
North Georgia's Center for Global Engagement and an associate professor of
political science. "He also is an excellent example of a student who started
his education at Gainesville State and who was attracted to the unique
opportunities that North Georgia had to offer."
Grogan made the President's List, an achievement that
requires a 4.0 grade point average, several times while at North Georgia. He
also served as a legislative intern for former Georgia Sen. John Douglas and
took part in the Governor's Youth Leadership Program among his many
extracurricular activities. In 2005, he was one of 110 Freeman-Asia Scholars
from across the United States chosen to study abroad in Osaka, Japan, through
the International Student Exchange Program. He learned Japanese and Spanish at
Gainesville State, which helped him learn Italian during his subsequent
Grogan met his wife, Manuela Proni, while studying in Japan.
The couple later married and lived in Bologna, Italy, where Grogan started a
small business called English Communication Services through which he taught
business English to working professionals in various companies and area
airports. He earned a master's degree from University of Bologna in 2011 and
has returned to the United States as an intern for the United Nation’s ECOSOC
Support and Coordination Office at the UN Headquarters in New York, N.Y.
"I really like that they have a progressive and open
attitude to the ideas which the interns bring to discussions," Grogan
said. "When they give us tasks to complete, they just give us the work and
trust us to show off our skills and talents without too much supervision."
|Jess Grogan and his wife, Manuela Proni, currently live in New York.
Since he's not getting paid for his internship, Grogan had
to shorten the six-month offer to just three months. Since employment with the
U.N. is very competitive, Grogan also plans to seek a job with a charitable
foundation, non-governmental organization or other non-profit group located in
"Living and working in New York City is amazing,
especially for a guy who grew up in rural North Georgia on a chicken
He credits Armstrong-Williams with encouraging him to take
part in the programs that furthered his interest in politics and the world.
"The biggest and most important lesson that I took from
North Georgia, and one that really changed my life in so many ways, was from
Dr. Armstrong-Williams. She taught me that colleges and universities have a
wealth of services and resources which you can use to your advantage,"
Grogan said. "I never thought in a million years that I would study in
Japan -- much less for free! And all I had to do was go to one study
abroad seminar to be convinced that it was possible. Now, I have a beautiful
Italian wife, a wealth of invaluable experience from traveling the world, and
an internship at the UN which will surely set me up for success."